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In Glacier National Park, the mighty Grizzly Bear travels through the landscape, alone or with cubs, foraging for food, searching for mates, and seeking new territories. It is a habitat where bears and wildlife roam free, a picturesque landscape depicted in many movies. However, Grizzly Bears are considered threatened under the Endangered Species Act (ESA), meaning they need to be protected so they don’t become endangered or extinct. Like many wild animals, these bears are facing dangers associated with the human-wildlife conflict. Grizzly Bears, along with pumas, mountain goats, and other critters, need protected wildlife corridors to successfully pass under the busy roads of the popular National Park. Oakland Zoo is committed to helping protect the Grizzly Bears in Glacier National Park.
The expansion of human development in rural lands means more cars and more traffic. Transportation corridors are an especially difficult wildlife problem. Bears are drawn to roads because of animal carcasses, such as deer and elk, that succumbed to auto collisions. Roadways have become a direct food source for bears. Grizzly Bears, including mothers and cubs, that feed on carcasses are dying from car strikes – contributing to a rising number of fatalities. Glacier National Park has created under passes to allow for wildlife to safely get around the roads, but like all conservation efforts, one solution leads to new problems that must be addressed.
Wildlife viewing is a huge visitor draw and the wildlife underpass at Walton Goat Lick is one of the most popular areas to observe the National Park’s beautiful wildlife. Visitor congestion along the highway and on the bridge presents an unsafe environment for all. In addition to safety concerns, human presence is encroaching upon the highway wildlife crossing and the human congestion negatively affects the bears, causing them to avoid their needed pathway.
Glacier National Park and Oakland Zoo have joined the Zoo-Park Partnership for America’s Keystone Wildlife Project. This unique initiative involves zoos and aquariums working with National Parks, National Wildlife Refuges, and National Forests and Grasslands in restoring sustainable habitats and wildlife populations across the country.
This partnership brings together Glacier National Park’s work to conserve and protect grizzlies and the mission of Oakland Zoo’s conservation program.
Oakland Zoo supports and sponsors the Passage Project currently underway to help save Grizzly Bears and wildlife in Glacier National Park. Once fully funded, the project will provide infrastructure to protect this vital wildlife corridor, allowing people to view these majestic creatures at a safe distance, while grizzlies are able to peacefully amble on. Besides a wildlife corridor, the project also includes wildlife fencing, more visible highway signage, installation of barriers (to prevent vehicles from stopping), educational signage, and an extension of the existing overlook trail - allowing a better vantage point of animals from under the bridge. The entire project aims to offer a safer future for both grizzlies and grizzly-loving wildlife enthusiasts.
Oakland Zoo helps fund the Glacier National Park Grizzly Passage Project through Quarters for Conservation (Q4C); this project is the beneficiary for 2021. Oakland Zoo raises funds for conservation through attendance tickets and membership fees. Visitors vote for a partner at our Q4C Kiosks during each visit, with a token given they receive upon entering the zoo. Twenty-five cents from every zoo visit is contributed to Q4C.
Oakland Zoo shares conservation issues facing Grizzly Bears and empowering solutions to conserve them to the public through a variety of channels: Docents and Volunteers, Teen Wild Guides, Education Programs, Events, Exhibits, Campaigns, Keeper Talks, and media stories.
Oakland Zoo provides yearly professional training for field partners and offers myriad staff skills and resources to enhance conservation efforts.
Oakland Zoo’s Eco-Travel Program plans to bring participants on a once-in-a-lifetime journey to take real action for wildlife at beautiful Glacier National Park starting in 2022.
Oakland Zoo is committed to animal welfare and offers a Forever Home to animals in need due to injury, parental loss due to car strikes or fires, the illegal pet trade, human-wildlife conflict, or other challenges. Four Grizzly Bears rescued by the Alaska Department of Fish and Game now call Oakland Zoo home.